Lang Lang to play in Tucson
Contributed photo, Classical pianist Lang Lang performs with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra on Monday, Jan. 10.

Special to The Explorer

Pianist Lang Lang is coming to Tucson in January to perform for the first time with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra.

Lang Lang, the “hottest artist on the classical music planet,” according to The New York Times, is performing Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No. 2,” one of the most beloved works for piano and orchestra on Monday, Jan. 10, at 8 p.m. at the Tucson Music Hall.

George Hanson, the TSO’s music director and conductor, leads the program, which opens with five “encores,” brief works artists often perform as encores on a program.

“Lang Lang is one of the great young talents on the scene today,” Hanson said. “I can’t wait to work with him.”

Lang Lang began playing piano at the age of 3. By age 5, he had won the Shenyang Competition and had given his first public recital. Entering Beijing’s Central Music Conservatory at age 9, he won first prize at the Tchaikovsky International Young Musicians Competition and played the complete 24 Chopin Études at the Beijing Concert Hall at age 13.

Lang Lang’s break into stardom came at 17, when he was called upon as a dramatic last-minute substitute at the “Gala of the Century,” playing a Tchaikovsky concerto with the Chicago Symphony. Following this remarkable debut, he performed successful concerts around the world.

The Times in London noted: “Lang Lang took a sold-out Albert Hall by storm… This could well be history in the making.”

In 2008, Lang Lang was featured in concert with jazz pianist Herbie Hancock at the 50th annual Grammy Awards, and was a featured performer at the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Opening the TSO Classic Special program are Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Festive Overture,” “In the Steppes of Central Asia” by Alexander Borodin, the “March & Scherzo” from Serge Prokofiev’s “The Love for Three Oranges,” and “Vocalise” by Sergei Rachmaninoff. The first half will close with the “Russian Sailors’ Dance” by Reinhold Glière.

The appearance of world-renowned pianist Lang Lang with the TSO is made possible with generous funding support from Frances Richardson. The media partner is Classical KUAT-FM.

Programming, artists and prices are subject to change.

George Steele to Direct TSO

George Steele has been named executive director of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra.

Steele, a Tucson Symphony Society board member since 1983, is stepping down from that board to assume his new post, a release said.

Erwin Kratz, president of the board of the Tucson Symphony Society, thanked Steele for “his willingness to serve as executive director.

“We are confident that his long relationship with the TSO and experience as a banking executive have prepared him well for the position,” Kratz said.

Steele is a retired executive of Valley National Corporation, an Arizona banking institution acquired in the mid-1990s by Bank One, now Chase. He served the Valley National Corporation for 33 years in various executive positions, including management positions in the branch system and management of the Southern Arizona retail system of 88 locations with more than $2.3 billion in assets.

During more than 25 years as an ardent supporter and advocate for the TSO, Steele has held many leadership positions. He is also a member of the Marshall Foundation and a member of the Community Advisory Board of Arizona Public Media.

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